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UKJA 2015: Top of the class

With the UK Jewellery Awards 2016 now open for entries, Ruth Faulkner considers the impact that winning one of the 18 prestigious categories can have for your business.

Back in mid-June, when the weather was warm, the evenings were light and the nation was still feeling hopeful that Andy Murray might be victorious at Wimbledon, 700 of the jewellery industry’s great and good gathered in the Pavilion at the iconic Tower of London to honour the achievements of their peers.

Reinforcing its rightful spot as the country’s premier jewellery industry event, there can be no doubt that the UK Jewellery Awards 2015 was a resounding success.

Not only were guest numbers back up to pre-recession levels, but a record amount of entries were received across the 18 categories, many of which were new for 2015.

As well as significant changes to the event this year - including the categories, entry process, judging panel and judging process - the awards were made more straightforward to enter.

The judging process was made fairer and more robust, ensuring that winning one of these coveted accolades remains among the highest honours in the jewellery trade.

“[The win] has opened lots of people’s eyes to the brand and people are more eager than ever to be a part of V”

Laura Vann, V Jewellery

These are the only awards of their kind: for the industry, judged by the industry and overseen by a carefully selected panel, chosen for their expertise in, and knowledge of, the trade. Additionally, all retail entrants were subject to a rigorous mystery shop by an external mystery shopping partner - a first for this year’s event and a move that proved so popular, it will be repeated in 2016.

One of the new categories introduced this year was Brand to Watch, an accolade that recognises any jewellery or watch brand that has been operating in the UK for three years or fewer, and that can demonstrate the potential to become the ‘next big thing’.

This proved to be one of the most popular categories, attracting in excess of 50 entries in the first round. The eventual winner was art deco-inspired silver-jewellery brand V Jewellery, which was recognised for its significant growth and the impressive stockist base it built following its launch in 2013.

According to the brand’s creative director Laura Vann, winning the award has done wonders for the business, even in the few months since the June ceremony.

“Being able to say that we have won a UK Jewellery Award has been incredibly beneficial to our company,” she says. “Recognition within the industry has led to an increase in press coverage and stores wanting to stock V Jewellery.

“Also, being able to use the logo in our marketing has opened lots of people’s eyes to the brand and people are more eager than ever to be a part of V.”

Jewellery designer Ornella Iannuzzi was similarly pleased with her award win in the coveted Jewellery Designer of the Year category this year. Having entered the awards in various categories since 2008, Iannuzzi feels that all of her hard work has finally paid off.

“Since winning, the feedback has been incredible from both my private clients and my stockists,” explains the designer, who also picked up a Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Award earlier this year. “It feels great to be recognised at such a level by the industry. Everybody is proud of my achievements this year and the award has further reinforced the Goldsmiths’ Company award earlier in the year, giving me even more motivation for the future.”

“You really need to ensure that the consumer knows that you’re best in class and why. Winning a UKJA does this for you”

Ben Roberts, Clogau

It is not only up-and-coming brands and designers that can benefit from a UK Jewellery Award, though. A win can be just as beneficial to established companies - and not just because everyone likes a celebration.

British wedding and commitment-ring manufacturer Brown & Newirth scooped the highly competitive Supplier of the Year award at this year’s event - something that director John Ball believes has boosted morale across the business.

“First and foremost, winning the award recognised the vision, dedication and determination of our team across all departments, regardless of seniority,” he says.

“It has definitely brought a greater togetherness to the business, as we look to progress our key strategies.”

Ball also believes that, while the UK Jewellery Awards are trade-focused, winning one can help with promotion by making consumers aware that your brand is award-worthy.

“The award will also add greater value to our new consumer drive as we opened our very first partner boutique with Lumbers this October and plan to refresh all marketing collateral across our retail partner estate in the coming months,” he says.

On the subject of public awareness, Retail Jeweller is delighted to announce a consumer media partnership between Marie Claire and the UK Jewellery Awards for the 2016 event.

As part of the partnership, Marie Claire readers will be asked to cast their vote for Jewellery Brand of the Year, via the publication’s website.

Working with a premium consumer title such as Marie Claire will help to raise the profile of the awards and bring added kudos to the winning brand in one of the event’s most coveted categories.

At this year’s event, it was Welsh jewellery brand Clogau that walked away with the accolade. Managing director Ben Roberts explains that, once the initial celebrations are over and everyone has recovered from their hangovers, it is all about planning to ensure the company capitalises on the win.

“You really need to ensure that the consumer knows that you’re best in class and why,” he says. “To a certain extent, winning a UKJA does this for you - simply because, by its very name, the consumer must understand that it’s a significant award.

“Once you’ve finished planning how to ensure that everyone knows you’ve won an award of this magnitude, then you can truly start to attempt to monitor the effects.”

Roberts says that he received phone calls from potential customers as far afield as the US and Canada, congratulating Clogau on the award. He even says his bank manager called to offer his congratulations - proof that the message about winning one of these prestigious awards really is far-reaching.

Andy Murray might not have managed a Wimbledon win this summer, but those who walked away from the UK Jewellery Awards victorious on June 17 have certainly ensured that they continue to capitalise on their achievements, long after the excitement of Centre Court has been forgotten.

Retail Jeweller UK Jewellery Awards 2016: the categories

  • Best Store Environment
  • Brand to Watch
  • New Designer of the Year
  • Bridal Jewellery Retailer of the Year
  • Bridal Collection of the Year
  • Ethical Jewellery Business of the Year
  • Employer of the Year
  • Etailer of the Year
  • Watch Brand of the Year (by nomination only)
  • The Innovation Award
  • Watch Retailer of the Year
  • Designer of the Year
  • Supplier of the Year
  • Fine Jewellery Brand of the Year (by nomination only)
  • Jewellery Brand of the Year (by nomination only)
  • Jewellery Retailer of the Year (five stores or fewer)
  • Jewellery Retailer of the Year (six stores or more)
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Industry

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